D.R.: Bonds just the next Ty Cobb
As with Elvis, there are two Barry Bonds. And as with Elvis, we liked the lean version better.
But Bonds will be forgotten, an asterisk, long before the Elvis legend ends.
He’ll never be loved, nor admired, not even liked. He won’t invited in retirement back to coach or even as a goodwill ambassador. The Game is as eager to be shed of him as Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson.
Goodbye, farewell. Thanks not for the memories but the onslaught of drug testing as if the National Pastime were the Tour de France. Thanks for showing that gambling was not the worst way to cheat the game. Thanks for the enduring stain. Thanks a lot.
Oh, he’ll get big headlines in a day or two. I’m sure even we’ll lead our front page with his feat surpassing Hammering Hank Aaron as career home run king.
Aaron won’t be the only absence in the celebration, though. The applause will be polite, muted. It is an achievement, after all, no matter the enhancements involved.
Then we’ll go right back to respecting Aaron, a classy man who has a role in the history of breaking that horrible color barrier. And we’ll go right back to revering Babe Ruth, the jovial, hard-partying rogue who endures as the face of baseball for all time.
Bonds? A guy who captured numbers but never our hearts. He was an ass from the beginning ” forgivable while your talent holds. Then he became the bobble head symbol of the steroid era. We liked skinny Barry better, though not by all that much.
His line of legacy in baseball will run far from his godfather Willie Mays, the first prince of baseball if the Babe reigns as king.
Bonds’ legacy will go the way of Ty Cobb, who famously sharpened his spikes to add a bit of viciousness into sliding, another of those players out for any edge, at any cost.
Cobb held the record for most hits about as long as Ruth had the home run record, but he was a surly jerk who sullied the game and was not missed when his talent came to earth. Pete Rose enjoyed living legend status when he broke the career hit record, until the gambling thing surfaced while he managed the Reds. As a player, though, I think he’ll always be a fan favorite, a fallen hero who was indeed once a hero.
Bonds, though, combines Cobb’s personality with Rose giving in to the temptation to cheat. There will be no sympathy in the judgment of baseball history.
Rather than the aura of Ruth’s feat, and respect for Aaron’s feat, Bonds will put the lie to the record as something truly special.
It’s just another number now.